In the Sick Hour: Poems

Editor’s note: This post is the first in a two-part series featuring the work of writers Jane Hartshorn and Kaiya Waerea.

Jane Hartshorn and Kaiya Waerea //

In the Sick Hour is the product of a collaboration between writers Jane Hartshorn and Kaiya Waerea. In the winter of 2020, just before the UK went into lockdown, we met to discuss how chronic illness has changed the way we interact with and experience time. We shared the feeling that our illnesses had instigated a falling ‘out of sync’; we found it impossible to meet the requirements of normative time and bend our bodies to the structures that imposed it. We wanted to make legible alternative ways of experiencing time, and we took Alison Kafer’s notion of ‘crip-time’ as a point of departure. Kafer describes crip-time as a ‘reorientation to time’, as ‘a challenging to normative and normalising expectations of pace and scheduling’[1]. This not only means providing ‘extra time’, e.g. in the form of deadline extensions, but involves adjusting to the different rates and rhythms of those who are sick and disabled.

We wanted to resist the concept of the narrative arc, of time as a linear progression from dependent child to independent reproductive adult, and its associated life stages. We wanted to articulate the blurring of past, present, and future that illness provokes; the periods of remission and relapse, the infinite present that pain and discomfort necessitate, and the multiple selves that reside in fractured pasts and imagined futures. Through diagrams, poetry, and critical dialogue, we attempted to ‘redraw’ the shape of time in illness, in order to convey the stasis, disruption, chaos, and fragmentation that are so central to the experience of being sick.

Preliminary Exercises in Bending the Clock-Face

Author bios:

Kaiya Waerea is a designer and writer based in London, currently doing a MA Writing at the Royal College of Art. Her work looks critically at chronic illness and the body by activating alternate forms of knowledge production to interrogate how we can collaboratively develop new ways of listening and taking care of each other.

Jane Hartshorn is a poet, editor, and PhD candidate at University of Kent. She is poetry editor at Ache Magazine, and her poetry publications include Tract (Litmus Publishing, 2017) and In the Sick Hour (Takeaway Press, 2020). @jeahartshorn

Text and image credit: The above poems and featured image are taken from the digital pamphlet In the Sick Hour, published by Takeaway Press in August 2020. https://takeawaypress.co.uk/shop/in-the-sick-hour-1


[1] Kafer, Alison, Feminist Queer Crip (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2013), p.27

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